I’ve been meaning to read this for awhile, even before I read Percy Jackson and the Olympians, because I noticed that Rick Riordan wrote the first book in the series. This is a series written by some of the big name YA/Children’s authors, starting with The Maze of Bones, which I finished in 1 day, and One False Noteby Gordon Korman, which I also finished in 1 day.
The series opens up with the death of Grace Cahill, the excessively rich matriarch of the large and influential Cahill family. There are 4 main branches of the family, and they are spread throughout the globe, and they have ties with every major historical figure and every major historical even in recorded history. At her death, she gives certain members of the family the option of accepting a straightforward inheritance or the chance to compete in a worldwide scavenger hunt following The 39 Clues, which are hidden throughout historical artifacts around the world, to the greatest secret to power and fortune that the world has ever seen.
Dan and Amy Cahill are Grace’s grand-children who, after being orphaned at a very young age, have been raised by Grace’s sister Beatrice, who resented their presence and burden. Grace spent more time with Dan and Amy than she did with anyone else, teaching them many things about history in order to secretly prepare them for the challenges ahead of them, though she never directly told them about it.
It isn’t all fun and games, however, as there are many members of those widespread branches who are also after the clues, and they are all better equipped, financed, and informed than Dan and Amy, who happen to be 11 and 14.
This was a quick read, but fast-paced and action-packed (not to be too cliche with my descriptors…), and very reminiscent of National Treasure or a Da Vinci Code for young readers. They have to dupe their au pair into chaperoning them across Europe in search for clues. The books held my attention very well, and were just nice and enjoyable. I’m on the 3rd one now, and it’s diverged from the style of the first two, raising the stakes. I think that’s one of the nice things about having multiple collaborators in an complex series like this. They can make it more intricate and keep it fresh.
There’s also a whole experience that goes along with the books, including trading cards and and online component if you want to do it—but you don’t need to do that in order to enjoy the books.